All the ice you could ever want, right on your counter. Too good to be true?
Published Nov. 15, 2022.
If you’re not getting enough ice from your freezer ice maker or trays, a countertop ice maker could be a good option. We liked two models that produce hollow, cylindrical, “bullet”-style ice. The IGLOO Premium Self-Cleaning Countertop Ice Maker is our favorite compact model. It’s lightweight and easy to carry thanks to its cooler-style handle, and it was impressively speedy for a smaller model. For those with larger spaces who are interested in quickly making a lot of ice, we suggest the Newair Countertop Ice Maker, which can produce nearly 2 pounds of ice per hour. It was bulky and heavy but simple to use. We also named the pricey GE Profile Opal 2.0 Nugget Ice Maker as our favorite nugget ice maker. It was the fastest and easiest to use of the nugget-style machines.
Countertop ice makers are ideal for people whose freezers don’t have built-in ice makers and who aren’t satisfied with the hassle or small capacities of ice trays. They’re also a more portable option for home bars, dorm rooms or studios, and boats or RVs. Many people use countertop models 24/7 to always have ice on hand, while some folks only bring them out for parties or trips and store them when they’re not in use.
To make ice, you fill the reservoirs through openings on the front or at the top of the machines. Some models also use external tanks mounted on their sides. Similar to commercial ice makers or the devices in home freezers, countertop ice makers use a compressor filled with refrigerant to cool metal ice molds and freeze water into one of several cube shapes. The ice drops into collection bins, ready to be scooped out for the next frosty drink. All the machines have sensors that monitor ice levels and restart the machines if the ice gets low. But ice makers aren’t freezers in and of themselves. They’re not built to keep ice cold indefinitely because they’re not circulating frigid air as a freezer does. As unused ice in the bins begins to melt, the water collects under the bins and is recirculated to make more ice.
The machines we tested make three different types of ice. The majority make “bullet” ice, which is cylindrical and hollow with one domed end, just like its namesake. Other models make classic square cubes that you can find at most bars and restaurants. A few machines make “nugget” or “pellet” ice, the wonderfully crunchy, tiny ice cylinders that are popular at soda fountains and some fast food joints. (For more information, see FAQ “How are different ice shapes made?”) We named winners for most of the machine styles we tested, and we found some common factors that you should look for when shopping.&n...
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.
Chase is an associate editor for ATK Reviews. He's an epidemiologist-turned-equipment tester and biscuit enthusiast.